Once your child understands the difference between critical and non-critical information, the next step on her journey to becoming an effective thinker is learning to identify keywords.
What are keywords?
This might seem obvious to you, but try asking your child what a keyword is. She will likely pinpoint the word key and thus the concept of unlocking something. This would be exactly right! A keyword is an important word that helps us to unlock meaning, enhance understanding and build context.
Reading vs Understanding
Many of us think that learning to read, or the act of reading, is an accomplishment in and of itself. Learning to sound out and identify words is certainly something to celebrate with your child, but keep in mind that the ultimate goal of reading is always understanding.
Without understanding, words are just meaningless strings of letters. Learning to identify keywords will empower your child to study and work effectively, transport herself to fantastic imaginary worlds and better understand the one we actually live in.
Keyword identification does not come naturally to children and can be difficult for them to master. The keys are teaching by providing examples and lots of practice!
Highlighters have become a highly controversial subject. The idea of highlighting important keywords makes a lot of sense on the surface, but then again, so do a lot of things. The problem with highlighters, as with so many tools we humans have invented, is not the tool itself but how we use it.
The highlighter can be an awesome weapon in the battle for keyword identification. It can also be a nightmare for teachers and children alike. If your child cannot properly identify keywords, her book may end up looking more like a post-modern neon art piece than an aid for learning. This overload of colour and lack of clarity about which information is important can have a debilitating effect on your child’s confidence. Before you equip them with a set of highlighters, make sure they know how to use them.
7 Question Words for Keyword Identification
The most effective way to teach your child how to identify keywords is to teach them the 7 question words. These words will help your child to define the different kinds of important information she will encounter throughout her life.
- What? Identify information about something.
- When? Identify information regarding time.
- Where? Identify information about a place or position.
- Which? Identify information regarding choice.
- Who? Identify information about people.
- How? Identify information about the manner in which something is done.
You can learn more about the 7 questions for keyword identification from this interesting article, Question Words – English Study.
About the Author
Kath lives with her husband and 3 young children in a small coastal town in South Africa. She is a speech therapist, who worked in London, Private Practices in Cape Town and KZN and then finally taught at Livingstone Remedial School in KZN, South Africa for 3 years. During this time, Daren Denholm, her memory guru husband, trained her up to compete with him at the 2011 World Memory Championships in China, while she was 6 months pregnant with their first child! The Chinese competitors complained that she was cheating because she had 2 brains. She sat next to the youngest competitor, a 9 year old Chinese girl. It was at this point that the Online Little Genius Puppets program was conceived.
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